Motivation is slavery

Acharya Prashant: The question is that it is alright to motivate somebody but for a real, permanent effect to take place, and for that the motivation should turn into a habit. What should be done to bring this into effect?

Firstly, why must you believe that the HIDP is about motivating you? And secondly, why must you believe that habits serve you well, any habit, what you label as a good habit or what you label as a bad habit? Do you see that there are two intrinsic beliefs hidden in your question?

First is, that you assumed that the HIDP is trying to motivate you and you have assumed that motivation works and the second assumption is, that at some point motivation must turn into a habit and that will make it work even more. I contest both these beliefs. Let us try to see.

What is motivation?

All motivation is external. Go into this. Motivation means an external force, an external agency, an external stimulus, is acting upon you and making you react in a certain way. Is that not what motivation is? So, someone comes and says a few words to you, those words have a certain impact on your mind and you start acting and behaving in a particular manner, and that is what you call as motivation.

Or you watch an inspiring movie or read a fancy tale and that has a certain effect on you, a summoning of energy, and you call that motivation and you are happy with it. But don’t you see what that does to you? That shifts the ownership of your energy to that external agency.

If motivation can come from the outside, motivation will disappear when that outside disappears. And any external factor cannot always stay with you. A person comes and makes a rousing speech, you are motivated. Will that person stay with you?


The person is gone, motivation is gone. That’s what happens with us daily, always. An event happens that motivates you, a particular day for example, and the day is external. The person comes and motivates, the person is external. You read a book, the book is external. Something happens, an incident and that incident is also external. And all these externals come and go, so your motivation also comes and goes.

Not only that, one external factor comes and motivates you in one direction and the other factor comes and motivates in another direction. Now what to do? Papa motivates you to do one thing, the media motivates you to do another thing and a professional guru motivates you to do the third thing altogether. Now, where to go?

All these are externals pulling you towards themselves, pulling you in directions that they determine. Now, that’s no way of living. That is no way of living a conscious life. This is a great distraction. I am talking about this way of living where someone just comes, exercises control over you, after all whosoever is motivating you, is motivating you in a particular direction. And the external can motivate, mostly motivates you to go more into the external, outside of yourself, so the life remains directionless, insipid and confused.

Are you getting it?

Pulled in different directions by different motivators, these external agencies that act upon your life and you remain a slave. So, if one element of motivation is slavery, what will you say about making a habit of being motivated?

You want habitual slavery?

What is a habit?

Try to understand that. I hope we have gone into motivation sufficiently, now let us go into the habit deeply. What is habit? Anything that you do as per the routine, anything for which you don’t have to think, which just happens in a pre-programmed way, is habit.

Does habit require any intelligence? Does habit require any discretion, any consideration? No. The moment you say, ‘I am habituated to something‘, that means it happens on its own, very mechanically. There is no intelligence required in that and you want to be habitually motivated. You are demanding that let me be perennially unconscious so that I remain driven by external factors alone. Understand this.

Real action does not come from motivation. An energetic, youthful action does not come from motivation. It comes from understanding and intelligence. It has spontaneity to it and it has inward-ness to it. Real action does not depend on an external agency. The external agency can at best take you back to yourself, it cannot motivate you. And there in the light of your own understanding you decide upon the action, even the word ‘decision’ is not accurate, action just happens. In your intelligence action takes place. And you need not make habit of it, in fact all habits ought to be avoided. You need not make habit out of it, it is moment-to-moment.

Life is moment-to-moment, and habit is a roll over, a carry forward from the past. Life is moment-to-moment, why must it be carried from the past? You respond intelligently to each moment. No habit is a good habit.

This difference between the good habit and the bad habit is false one. A habit means, ‘I am not fully conscious, not deciding, I am acting very mechanically, in a pre-programmed way‘. And that cannot be good. Do not look for habits. Look for your intelligence.

-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Motivation is slavery | YouTube

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2 thoughts on “Motivation is slavery

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